Update: Please see comments below for an in-depth rundown on the history of this issue and more. ed.

American casino giant Caesars Entertainment Corporation has reportedly told officials in Louisiana that the 2015 indoor smoking ban instituted in Orleans Parish has severely hurt business at its Harrah’s Casino And Hotel New Orleans.

According to a report from The Times-Picayune newspaper citing a story from the Manship School News Service, representatives for the Las Vegas-based casino operator made the revelation on Tuesday during a meeting with the Riverboat Economic Development And Gaming Task Force in Baton Rouge.

Caesars Entertainment Corporation also operates the Horseshoe Bossier City and the Harrah’s Louisiana Downs Casino And Racetrack facilities near the city of Shreveport and reportedly revealed that its New Orleans casino had lost about $70 million in revenues since the start of the smoking ban in April of 2015.

Mark Frissora, President and Chief Executive Officer for Caesars Entertainment Corporation, reportedly told officials that its Harrah’s Casino And Hotel New Orleans property had found it difficult to compete with casinos in surrounding counties as the smoking ban only applies to venues in Orleans Parish.

“It’s not fair because everyone else around us doesn’t have the smoking ban,” Frissora reportedly told the Riverboat Economic Development And Gaming Task Force.

Dan Real, Regional President South for Caesars Entertainment Corporation, reportedly told those assembled that the first quarter of 2015 had seen the Harrah’s Casino And Hotel New Orleans post its best-ever financial results but that these had now decreased due to the indoor smoking ban.

Despite the drop in business, Real reportedly explained that he remains optimistic about the future prospects of the Harrah’s Casino And Hotel New Orleans due in part to the imminent launch of two new outdoor slot areas. The venue premiered a 63-machine smoker-friendly area in November and hopes to open an additional pair of courtyards by the start of July.

“Sixty-three slot machines will never make up for the gap that’s been created but that’s one example of multiple things we’re trying to do to fill the funnel that has been left void,” Real told the Manship School News Service.

For his part, Frissora reportedly stated that Caesars Entertainment Corporation remains committed to Louisiana and is planning to build “casinos of the future” with one of these set for its current location in New Orleans.

“Everything we do should address both millennials as well as baby boomers,” Frissora told the Manship School News Service while pointing out that the Harrah’s Casino And Hotel New Orleans is additionally planning to open a new all-ages entertainments center on its second floor in July.

2 Responses



  2. Steven Norton

    I was the individual that convinced then Governor Edwards, that a single casino in New Orleans would be better for the City, that casino games in every 500 room hotel. My rationale was that a single casino could afford a more spectacular attraction that having Puerto Rico style gaming in multiple properties. The plan which was approved by a Legislative Committee, after testimony by the Governor, Mayor Bartholomew and myself; proposed a $100 million minimum tax; 4 gourmet restaurants (operated by existing NO restaurateurs), coffee shops and a buffet and two showrooms. One was for a risque review show, performing nightly; and a second large showroom for major performers and events to small for the Super Dome. The selected site was the Levy, between the Hilton and the French Market; where the aquarium resides today. And with hotel occupancies suffering badly, after the 1984 Worlds Fair, my proposal had no rooms, but a 2,500 car garage. The year was 1987, before gaming in Mississippi or riverboats in Louisiana, and the Governor was running against another Democrat, Buddy Roemer. The bill died in the House; and I was hired by the Delta Queen Steamboat Company, to help the Legislature and State Police, pass the Riverboat bill in 1991-92, which was successful. Bur Edwards won the following election, and brought back the New Orleans Casino issue, in 1992, before approving the Casino Commissioners. The Legislature agree to reintroduce the 1987 bill, but forgot to reduce the minimum tax of $100 million, which needed to change because of the new competition in Mississippi and LA riverboats. Now the permanent casino is in the old convention hall, the State has adjusted the tax rate; but have now placed the non smoking restriction, costing the operator and State in revenues and taxes. There is a simple solution available if smoking rooms are allowed in the casino, but only smoking employees are allowed to work there. Second hand smoke is not an added health concern for someone who smokes. Harrah’s has done the best they can with outdoor gaming, but in the Louisiana climate, heat and rain are real issues, and have not stopped the loss of revenues or taxes.
    When I prepared a study on the smoking impact on the 4 Greater Chicago riverboats in Illinois, I found a negative impact in year one of a 21.8%% decline in win, a 32.8% decline in taxes, 14.1% fewer admissions (with smoking allowed on Indiana riverboats in adjacent east Chicago, Hammond and Gary. Ant the win per admission down 9.0%; a very large impact, when in the US, only 15% of adults smoke. Two years later (2010) before a 5th casino opened and voided fair comparisons, the win was down 35.5%. taxes 48.1%, attendance 24.4% and win per attendance down 14.7%
    Harrah’s is fortunate that their win is not down even further, probably because the LA riverboats are limited in casino size, and in harder to reach locations, plus the French Quarter, Super Dome and thousands of hotel rooms are more convenient to a downtown location.
    My employer, Resorts International Inc. also owned Intertel, an International Company that provided Howard Hughes and many forewing governments. Intertel’s Chairman, Robert Peloquin had previously met Governor Edwards, and the Company was hired to determine whether Dog Racing or a casino would carry the debt service of the new Super Dome. It was 1977, when Resorts was preparing fo r gaming in Atlantic City, but I took a break to help Intertel with the financial part of the projections, and I worked with Charles Roemer, Buddy’s Father, and Secretary of Administration for Governor Edwards. Unfortunately the Legislation to put a casino in the Dome did not succeed, but it provided me with an introduction to Governor Edwards, that prompted my follow up with Governor Edwards 16 years later. .


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